MANILA -- President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines announced Sunday that the government had reached a deal with a major rebel group that is expected to help reduce the persistent violence in the southern part of the country.
"This framework agreement paves the way for a final, enduring peace in Mindanao," Mr. Aquino said on Sunday.
The deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has fought a war of independence for more than three decades on the predominantly Muslim southern island of Mindanao, is the result of intermittent peace talks that have been taking place in Malaysia since 2001.
"The agreement will ensure that the Bangsamoro people will enjoy the dividends of peace, which they rightly deserve," said Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, using a term that refers to the native people of the southern Philippines. "In turn, they should respect their fellow Filipinos of Christian faith as moderation is the true Islamic way."
Under the agreement, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will no longer seek a separate independent state, Mr. Aquino said. Instead, the deal creates a new governing political entity, called Bangsamoro, for Mindanao.
As part of the deal, the new political entity will exercise a degree of autonomy in governing Mindanao while the national government retains authority over defense and security, foreign policy, monetary policy and citizenship. The deal also assures the people of Mindanao "a fair and equitable share of taxation, revenues and the fruits of national patrimony," Mr. Aquino said.
"This means that hands that once held rifles will be put to use tilling land, selling produce, manning work stations, and opening doorways of opportunity for other citizens," Mr. Aquino said.
One important part of the agreement calls for the decommissioning of the military wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which reportedly includes 11,000 fighters. In addition, the Philippine military will turn over law enforcement to the local police.
The accord sets out general guidelines for a more detailed agreement that will be hammered out by working groups over the next few years, said David C. Gorman, who helped mediate the talks on behalf of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, an organization based in Geneva that is devoted to resolving armed conflicts.
"It's going to be tough," Mr. Gorman said. "It's not a peace agreement. It's a framework agreement. It is saying, 'This is the road map to peace. These are the broad outlines. Now you have to work out the details."'
"It is going to be messy and it is going to take time," he added.
The deal includes provisions to address clan warfare, the proliferation of weapons and private armies that are blamed for widespread political violence in the southern Philippines. A private army employed by the Ampatuan clan in central Mindanao has been accused of the 2009 massacre of 57 people, including 31 journalists, in one of the country's worst acts of political violence.
Though the Sunday agreement was reached with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main rebel group in the southern Philippines, it includes mechanisms to bring other organizations into the discussions on local governance. Notably, this does not include extremist groups like the Abu Sayyaf, which is blamed for kidnappings, murders and beheadings.
"These extremist groups are always going to be difficult to deal with," Mr. Gorman said. "There are always going to be those operating outside the agreement, but as long as they are not able to undermine the process they will remain marginalized."
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, staged a series of attacks and bombings in August during the final weeks of the peace talks. One attack, on Aug. 5, killed 80 militants and 10 soldiers and caused the evacuation of 189 residents.
In the past four decades, the conflict in Mindanao has killed at least 120,000 and displaced two million, according to the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.